Plant Engineering

In the context of energy management and the reduction of energy consumption, a wide range of innovative and future-oriented technical systems and technologies are being examined by our experts. The focus is on heat or cold generation and storage using systems such as solar thermal energy, heat pumps, cogeneration or wastewater utilization. The expertise of our researchers ranges from conducting feasibility studies and project conceptualization to providing technical support in the planning and implementation phases and assisting new technologies in entering the market. Our experts are also involved in the development and introduction of new business models for plant operation and energy supply.

Competencies of the Fraunhofer Energy Alliance in the Field Energy Urban

Control Technology

Technologies for controlling and regulating processes are used in numerous renewable energy applications for the purpose of automation. In this context, research of the experts at the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft focuses on energy management. Within this framework, we develop modular control concepts for energy management systems, for example. This includes, among other things, the optimized operation of thermal systems, the management of decentralized energy generators or the development of a novel electricity self-consumption system. The use of control technology also plays a decisive role in the self-sufficient supply of electricity, heat and water and the development of adaptive systems.




»EnergyPilot« supports customers in schedule optimization and deployment planning of decentralized plants, storage facilities and loads.»EnergyPilot« is used for simulations as well as for operational purposes (more information in German).


Zero-energy building

In 2018, Freiburg's »Rathaus im Stühlinger«, the world's first public building (net floor space 22,650m2) with a zero-energy concept, was completed. This means that the building supplies more energy than it consumes per year.



In the research project »DigitalFire«, Fraunhofer UMSICHT is investigating the digitalization of biomass combustion. For this purpose, various sensors are installed, and the data generated with them is collected, processed and visualized.


EMS-EDM Prophet

Whether electricity trader, municipal utility, grid operator, direct marketer or external service provider: The modules of EMS-EDM PROPHET® cover all areas relevant to the energy industry for electricity, gas and heat.



Together with partners, Fraunhofer IEE is investigating the coupling of the current power grid model with requirements and flexibilities from the energy sector. Cross-sector synergies for the energy system of the future are taken into account.

Ventilation Technology

Ventilation technology includes the provision of fresh air in buildings in terms of indoor climate, air quality and acoustics. Based on these components, the institutes of Fraunhofer Energy Research deal with the analysis and optimization of ventilation systems. Energy-efficient ventilation and air-conditioning systems also contribute to reducing the energy consumption of buildings. Against this background, researchers at Fraunhofer are evaluating various ventilation systems in comparative studies, including, for example, a moisture-controlled exhaust air system with a supply and exhaust air system with integrated heat recovery. With regard to the acoustics of ventilation systems, we also deal with the acoustic design of new systems and the analysis of existing systems.




»GreenFaBS« examines the influence of a green façade on the energy consumption of decentralized façade ventilation units by means of comparative energy measurements in two rooms that differ only by the curtain green façade (more information in German).



The project »HEAVEN« (HEAting and VENtilation) aims to develop a power-modulating brine heat pump, to optimize the control of decentralized ventilation devicesand and to develop a model for ventilation equipment with a coaxial heat exchanger.


Solar Thermal Energy

In the area of plant engineering, low-temperature solar thermal energy with heat transfer media such as water or air, as well as heat pipe concepts, plays a particularly important role. The systems support both the provision of domestic hot water and space heating, whereby efficient integration into the entire heating system is important. Intelligent control algorithms play just as an important role as components whose hydraulic properties are optimized for system integration. Experts at Fraunhofer Energy Research are also working on optics for directing and concentrating radiation and modifying optical material properties using surface technology. By means of photovoltaic-thermal (PVT) collectors it is possible to generate electricity and heat simultaneously on one and the same surface. With all technologies, the focus is on integrating them architecturally into the building and using them multifunctionally. The know-how of Fraunhofer’s researchers ranges from new manufacturing processes and materials to the final installation processes, always taking business optimization into account.




Within the scope of the project, the decentralized integration of solar thermal systems into a heat supply concept based on a combined heat and power plant is being developed and implemented in Freiburg-Gutleutmatten.



In the project, a research consortium led by the Fraunhofer ISE has developed two novel solar thermal façade collectors: a solar thermal strip collector and a solar thermal jalousie. 



The main objective »ANNsolar« is the development and demonstration of the monetary and technical advantages of the neural network methodology. Self-learning algorithms allow energy-efficient control strategies to be implemented.

Solar Heating and Cooling

Against the background of a steadily growing demand for air conditioning, the concept of solar cooling is becoming increasingly important. This is particularly worthwhile during summer, as excess thermal energy can be converted for solar cooling and thus used in an energy-efficient manner. Thematically, the institutes of Fraunhofer Energy Research in this area deal, for example, with efficient re-cooling for solar thermal driven refrigeration. In test projects on buildings and settlements with self-sufficient energy supply, self-developed concepts of solar cooling are used on an applied level.



Efficient Heating

The »Efficient Heating« project aims to close the gap between data and model bases and to provide a methodology for the comparable evaluation of different heating systems and define suitable data formats.



Together with partners from Kenya and Germany, Fraunhofer ISE is developing solar and off-grid cooling and drying technology for milkfish and kimarawali to improve the profitability of local fishermen.

Heat Pumps

Heat pumps take thermal energy from the environment and transfer it as useful heat, especially for space heating. Among other things, researchers at Fraunhofer have set up a heat pump system that uses waste heat from compressed air generation for heat pumps in addition to exhaust air energy. To further increase the efficiency of heat pump technology, our experts are testing the use of alternative refrigerants and adsorption materials. By using methanol or ethanol instead of water, heat pumps can also be used in a temperature range below 0°C due to their lower freezing point.




The project »FernWP – District and process heat supply by heat pumps as a replacement for coal combustion« addresses the technical and economic barriers that currently still impede the widespread use of large-scale heat pumps. 



In the composite project »LC150« Fraunhofer ISE is developing a compact and cost-efficient refrigeration circuit for heat pumps which use propane as refrigerant. The focus here is on development coordinated with heat pump manufacturers.



In the Fraunhofer »ElKaWe« lighthouse project, six Fraunhofer Institutes are developing highly efficient electrocaloric heat pumps, which do without harmful refrigerants.  


Combined heat and power (CHP) refers to the simultaneous conversion of an energy source into electrical and thermal energy. CHP is thus at the interface between the electricity and heating market and, as a base-load capable technology, plays an important role as a bridging technology in the German government's energy and climate protection concept. Researchers at the Fraunhofer Gesellschaft rely on highly efficient CHP technology in particular for energy concepts for large properties or urban districts with a high year-round demand for heat and electricity. Great attention must be paid to a high annual utilization rate in the planning process. To achieve high full utilization hours, we develop adapted storage concepts for thermal and electrical energy as well as strategies for optimal load management. As a further service, innovative approaches in the field of CHP with ORC technologies, absorption chillers or fuel cells are being supported by our scientists as they enter the market. Our experts are also involved in the development and introduction of new business models for plant operation and energy supply. In the short and medium term, the energy carrier for CHP applications must be decarbonized, e.g. by using bio-methane and bio-methanol, in the long term from green hydrogen or biofuels synthesized from green hydrogen that are easier to store, if other climate-neutral heating or cooling technologies are not an option in stationary operation.



CHP of the Year 2020

The magazine »Energie und Management« has nominated the natural gas CHP plant at Fraunhofer IISB as »CHP unit of the Year«. The jury was convinced by the concept for integrating the CHP into the infrastructure of the Fraunhofer IISB.


Flex KWK

The »Flex KWK« project, Fraunhofer UMSICHT demonstrates a new combined heat and power generation (CHP) concept. The operation of a combined heat and power plant is flexibly adapted to the demand for electricity. 



In the »GalvanoFlex« research project, operating strategies for combined heat and power plants and efficiency measures were prepared to help industrial companies reduce energy costs (more information in German).

Decentralized Storages

The energy transition adopted by the German government has far-reaching implications for the structure of Germany's energy supply. The transmission and distribution grids in particular are strongly affected by the serious changes in the power supply. The renewable energy sources wind and solar fluctuate in their availability but cannot be adapted to the existing consumption profile. In order to ensure the required coverage between generation and consumption, there are two possibilities: On the one hand, corresponding storage capacities can be provided in parallel with generation capacities of a similar magnitude. The other option is to adjust the consumption profile through load shedding and load anticipation, as is already practiced to some extent in the balancing energy market. With its large thermal storage mass, the German building stock offers enormous potential for heat storage. In this way, the buildings of the future will be able to meet their energy needs in an environmentally and system-compatible manner by means of Power-to-Heat (P2H), while at the same time contributing to the successful implementation of the energy transition. For this purpose, we develop adapted storage concepts for thermal energy including the thermal storage mass of the building, high-temperature and PCM storage as well as strategies for optimal load management.




»REACT – Renewable Energy for Self-Sustainable Island Communities« aims to help EU island communities pursue a cooperative energy management strategy through a scalable ICT platform for managing electricity supply.




Fraunhofer ISE is using simulation models to investigate the impact of the expansion of prosumers on the generation of electricity and the power grid in Germany.


Wind-powered Heating 2.0: Long-term Storage

Together with partners, Fraunhofer IBP explores how surplus electricity from wind turbines can be used to cover the heating requirements of buildings (power-to-heat).

Energetic Use of Waste Water

Heat recovery from wastewater is steadily gaining in importance. In combination with a heat pump, it is possible to cover the heating and cooling energy needs of buildings and properties with this clean, renewable energy. The great advantage of wastewater as a heat source results from a relatively high source temperature without major seasonal fluctuations. Heat recovery is achieved by means of a heat exchanger, which is usually installed in a sufficiently flowing sewer. Other applications include in-house collection lines or wastewater treatment plant effluent. Especially in the development of climate-neutral supply concepts, wastewater heat plays an important role in covering the basic heat load. We support construction companies and municipalities in carrying out feasibility studies and in project conceptualization. During the planning and implementation phase, our experts provide technical support and help with quality assurance. We accompany new technologies and approaches in the field of wastewater heat recovery during their market entry and support their scientific preparation.



Agra Price of Innovation

Together with partners, Fraunhofer IKTS developed a recycling process for residual materials from whey refinement and received the »Agra Price of Innovation« for it (more information in German).



The goal of the project is that the utilisation of the particulate organic carbon of the municipal wastewater does not only consist of the production of the comparatively cheap and climate-relevant gas methane but that more sustainable products are created. 


Stuttgart wins the German Sustainability Award 2022

Fraunhofer IBP supported the city of Stuttgart in numerous projects (more information in German).